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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
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June 14, 2024

Statistics Canada has released real-time local business conditions from June 3 to June 9, 2024. Reference dates reported now refer to the date following the end of the reference week. These data are not adjusted for seasonality and monthly or weekly changes may simply reflect regular seasonal patterns.

From August 10 of 2020 to June 10, 2024, the local business conditions index for Halifax has increased by 433.0%. St. John's reported the strongest growth in business conditions over this period while Toronto and Hamilton had the smallest gains.

Halifax business conditions increased 4.8% in the week ending June 10. Of 30 urban centers, 25 reported improved business conditions compared to the week prior.  St. Catharine's-Niagara reported the strongest gain while Edmonton reported the largest decline. 

Compared with four weeks prior, business conditions were up 11.1% in Halifax. 24 of 30 urban centers reported improving business conditions over the most recent four weeks, with Montréal reporting the largest improvement. Québec City and Regina reported the largest declines in business conditions over this period.

Compared with the same week a year ago, Halifax business conditions have improved by 49.1%. All cities reported improvements over the same period last year with the largest gains in Windsor.  The smallest gains were reported in Toronto and Kingston.

As the experimental business conditions index is both volatile and unadjusted for seasonality, a comparison of year-to-date averages may generate more stable (if less current) insights into changing business conditions.

Compared with the first 23 weeks of 2023, Halifax business conditions were up 44.9% in the same period of 2024. Over this period, Kitchener and Ottawa reported the largest gains while Barrie reported the smallest gain. No urban centres reported a year-to-date decline in business conditions.

Halifax business conditions typically fall sharply during the winter months and rebound in the spring.  Weather and cultural events also cause volatility in Halifax business conditions.   With steady improvement in recent weeks, Halifax's business conditions have pulled ahead of those in all large urban centres (population >800,000).

Few medium-sized cities (250,000 < population < 800,000) have matched Halifax's recent gain in business conditions, bringing the city's business conditions above those in all other medium sized urban centres except Windsor, Kitchener and Regina. 

Halifax business conditions have risen to be in line with those in smaller urban centres (though conditions in St. John's fluctuate widely).


This experimental data product starts from information on the number of businesses listed in the business register in "business dense areas" of a large urban centre.  Data from 2019 business locations provided baseline (ie: pre-pandemic) insight on business revenue and employment. 

The data focus on 27 industries in particular: retail bakeries, furniture stores, electronics/appliance stores, building materials/garden supply stores, food/beverage stores, gas stations/convenience stores, clothing stores, cycling stores, book stores, general merchandise stores, florists, cinemas, dental offices, museums, zoos/gardens, amusement/theme parks, casinos, fitness/recreation centres, bowling alleys, drinking places, restaurants, and personal care services (such as hair care or esthetics).

Data on current operating conditions (open vs. closed) were collected from commercial application-program interfaces (API).  Most of the information is drawn from Google's Places API, which is similar to what is available publicly on Google Maps, with supplementary information from APIs offered by Yelp Fusion and Zomato.  Queries to the API are based on a sampling approach ('density-based cursory search') that focuses on the densest areas for business locations in the selected industries.  Statistics Canada cautions that the sampling methods used do not follow standard statistical methods due to cost and technical limitations.

Data on current traffic volumes were drawn from TomTom's historical traffic information.  As with operating conditions, the information was drawn from a sample of routes within identified business-dense areas.  Statistics Canada cautions that traffic volume estimates and their relationship to business conditions may be sensitive to changing traffic patterns, construction/detours, and changes to business models such as curbside pickup or delivery.

The index of real-time local business conditions is estimated as the value of retail revenue, adjusted for both percentage of reported business closures as well as changes in traffic volumes from pre-pandemic levels. 

The value of the index was set to 100 as of August 2020.  As such, the index shows changes since then, but does not represent the variations in business conditions that existed in the initial period. A location with strong local business conditions in August 2020 would have less opportunity to grow than a location with weak conditions in the same month.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 33-10-0398-01  Real-time Local Business Condition Index (RTLBCI)

Statistics Canada catalogue 71-607X. Real-Time Local Business Conditions Index: Concepts, data, methodology,, July 15, 2021